Wake Network Developing Genetics-Based Screening System to Offer Patients Personalized Psychedelic Therapies
Wake Network Developing Genetics-Based Screening System to Offer Patients Personalized Psychedelic Therapies

A first-of-its-kind research initiative is aiming to develop a genetics-based screening system to improve the effectiveness of psychedelic therapies for patients suffering from a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Fungi bioscience company Wake Network announced on Wednesday that it is collaborating with the Lieber Institute for Brain Development to take a genetics-based approach to psychedelic integration and clinical research on TBI. 

Brain injuries – which have a variety of symptoms including persistent headaches, nausea, fatigue, sensitivity to light or sound, and which can lead to mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation – are prevalent in the veteran, athlete, elderly, and domestic violence survivor populations. 

Wake Network is the latest in a string of life science companies or organizations that are investigating psychedelic therapies as a possible treatment for TBI, along with Wesana Health and The Heroic Hearts Project. Through the Wake Genomics Project, which kicks off this month, Wake Network and the Lieber Institute hope to co-develop a genetics-based safety screening system for patients through a combination of genome mapping, machine learning, and metabolic measurement. 

Wake Network described the project as “one of the most robust genetics research initiatives in the emerging psychedelics space to date,” and said it formed a critical component of all of the company’s clinical research currently underway. 

The Lieber Institute is an independent, non-profit research institution located next to the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus in Maryland, the United States. An international leader in biomedical research, the institute houses the largest database of genetically profiled human brains in the world. Its scientists study the role of genetics and environment in brain development and function to better understand disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, autism, and TBI.  

“TBI is a devastating condition with limited treatment options,” said Lieber Institute CEO and Director Dr. Daniel Weinberger. “Personalized medicine that tailors treatment to a patient’s unique genetics is a promising technique for the treatment of brain injury and other psychiatric disorders. We’re excited to use the Lieber Institute’s cutting-edge genetics in brain technology to help Wake Network ensure its research in this area is as safe and low risk as possible.” 

The company’s president, Warren Needler, added that risk mitigation was an important focus area for the emerging psychedelics research industry for it to be successful on both the compound and psychiatric levels. “These compounds can cause profound shifts in consciousness, and certainly sometimes with adverse results. The work that Wake Network and the Lieber Institute are pursuing addresses this and allows for the industry to advance safely.”

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